February 20, 2019

What To Remember When You Are Weak

There are many days when I feel the weight of my inability to overcome my flesh. Do you as well? It's not a bad thing to know our weakness. In fact, recognizing and acknowledging both our sin and our inability to eradicate our sin is important. This is what the Bible calls being poor in spirit; we're spiritually bankrupt in and of ourselves, and we know it. But what we do at that point of recognition is vital. Do we vow that we'll, by sheer willpower, try harder next time? Do we wallow in self-condemnation? Or do we heed the call of Christ?
The gospel calls us to look outside of ourselves to Christ. When we look to him for our salvation and help by faith, we see how we're spiritually rich. He's taken away our sin, but we often don't consider that he's added to our account as well. In his grace, he's poured into us his righteousness, the inheritance he himself earned, and his Spirit, who helps us love God in return through obedience. 

It's at the point of recognition, when we know our weakness, that we must preach this gospel to ourselves. Here is what I go back to again and again as I fight to remember what exactly this gospel is:
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This is the gospel: not that we are right with God because of what we do, but that we are right with God because of what Christ did for us.

The gospel can be twisted so easily, and we have believed the lies of the goodness gospel. It has whispered so convincingly that our salvation was a gift received and the rest of the Christian life is up to us and whatever effort we give it.

But we will be fools no longer; we will not pursue what we already possess. We won’t be debtors, and we will not give our lives over to the fruitless chasing of goodness and image and religious plate-spinning.

No, we will not be obsessed with goodness; we will be obsessed with God. Instead of dictating to him how he should be honored, we will give ourselves to what he says are the most important things: receiving from him each day and letting his love and grace compel us to worship and to love and to serve with joy. Our external actions will mirror and flow from our internal affections.

We believe that God is a singing God, a celebratory God, and that he delights in us. We release our grip on our own agendas, ambitions, and dreams of self-glory so that our hands are free to receive his love. We refuse to stiff-arm the truth of God’s love because we feel unworthy. Christ stands in our place and God loves his Son, therefore God loves us.

We know that the Christian life is impossible on our own merit. We can’t love sacrificially, forgive easily, or obey joyfully without someone leading and helping us. And so we don’t walk in self-sufficiency but rather we depend on the Holy Spirit, our Helper, to lead and empower us. We practice spiritual disciplines as a means of asking for his help and leadership.

We identify with Christ, and our true home is built with the bricks and mortar of grace. Because of his grace, we are free from thinking too much about ourselves and free from thinking too much about the opinions others have of us. We make it our aim to please God alone.

Assured of God’s love, we are compelled by him to love others. We participate boldly in the community of the Beloved, where we sharpen and are sharpened, and we go as Sent Ones to share the love we’ve experienced.

Assured of God’s grace, we give grace to others, with the goal of unity rather than uniformity. We trust God to lead us all, and we know that sometimes he leads us differently on open-handed, secondary issues. Different is quite beautiful, so we use our differing gifts to show off the beauty of Christ and we champion others as they use theirs.

Assured that we possess the greatest treasure, we turn from false hopes that only compound pain and suffering. We fix our eyes on Christ and run hard the race he’s marked out for us. In our trials, we give him our hearts, letting him produce in us character and perseverance and an enduring hope.

In all these things, we live and die and live again, all by Christ. We do not allow ourselves to be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. That makes Christ nothing. We stand firm in grace’s freedom, where Christ is everything.

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Friends, what you've just read is a manifesto I wrote to summarize and help readers internalize the message of my book, From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel. Print your own copy of the Grace Manifesto for quick reference as you fight to remember the gospel. You can also read Chapter One of the book for free here.

The best news is that the entire ebook is on sale until February 28 for only $1.59 on Amazon and Christianbook.com and $1.99 on Barnes & Noble! Grab your copy today and let me show you what I've learned about preaching the gospel to myself.